User Reviews (56)

Add a Review

  • Dispersed throughout the Universal reign of horror in the thirties came several remarkably well-made MGM and Warner Brother horror films. The Walking Dead is one such film produced by Warner Bros. that mixes their predominant genre of expertise, the gangster film, with the horror film. You might say in a way that it is a blend of reality and the supernatural. This film has stood the test of time well, and is a nice, taut story of a man wrongly accused of a crime, miraculously brought back to life, and eventually seeking vindication and justice from those that did him wrong. Karloff is a masterful lead in that he is able to frighten us and exact from us a tremendous amount of pity and understanding. In point of fact, his characterization of Ellman is one of his most powerful and sympathetic, a true tragic hero toyed with by crime bosses and a corrupt lawyer. Most of the acting beyond Karloff is rather pedestrian, with Edmund Gwenn turning in a nice portrayal of a questioning scientist and Ricardo Cortez wonderfully playing the stereotypical slimy lawyer. Curtiz does a good job of direction and lighting and shading are used to almost perfect results. A must see for the classic horror buff!
  • Eerie, creepy, beautifully shot oddity, the kind of stuff they just wouldn't know how to make any more (not that they would want to). Karloff gives a fine performance as the gaunt, haunted patsy in a murder rap. Stand-out scene is definitely the fantastic build up to Karloff's undeserved execution, as sad cello music plays and prison guards banter about baseball while a man's life hangs in the balance. The ideas dry up a bit as King Karloff haunts his killers, but his sinister solemnity captivates the interest, and it's all crammed into little more than an hour.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A stylish and expert hybrid between gangster drama and horror (of the mad scientist and zombie variety) made by a studio and director who had cut their teeth on the former but who proved equally adept at the latter on occasion; as for star Boris Karloff, he fared better here than in BLACK Friday (1940), a not dissimilar concoction.

    Karloff, as always, is remarkable and very moving as the hapless 'monster': his characterization draws on a few of his previous roles - THE CRIMINAL CODE (1931), FRANKENSTEIN (1931), THE RAVEN (1935) - but also looks forward to Karloff's "Mad Doctor" cycle which began with THE INVISIBLE RAY (1936). Edmund Gwenn is also effective in one of his earlier roles as the doctor who brings Karloff back to life after he is wrongly executed: obsessed by an urge to learn what goes on after death, he drives Karloff on but the latter's only concern is to get even with the corrupt gang which set him up (including Ricardo Cortez's shady lawyer, Barton MacLane as one of his associates and Joe Sawyer as a hit-man, the real murderer).

    The film's best moments feature Karloff's zombie rampage which, incongruous as that may seem, have a touch of poetry about them - not least because of the way that every member of the gang dies by his own hand through accident rather than Karloff's! At first, I was wary of the fact that a barely conscious Karloff could travel and somehow reach the gang's home addresses (of which he could have had no prior knowledge) in order to exact his revenge, but it is later suggested that Karloff became all-knowing in the hereafter - which is, after all, what every religion foresees for its believers.

    THE WALKING DEAD is a solid little film and I hope that someday Warners releases a Box Set of their lesser-known horror catalogue, to include THE MAD GENIUS (1931), DOCTOR X (1932), THE MASK OF FU MANCHU (1932), MAD LOVE (1935), MARK OF THE VAMPIRE (1935), THE DEVIL-DOLL (1936), THE RETURN OF DR. X (1939) and THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS (1946)...
  • This is a one of a kind--combination horror/gangster! Karloff (who's just incredible) is bought back from the dead after being wrongfully executed and takes revenge on those who set him up. It's basically a gangster film until the last half hour--then the scary stuff kicks in. The film is VERY short (70 minutes) and moves quickly. It's intelligent (although bringing a person back from the dead after they've been electrocuted is a stretch!), very well-directed (effective use of shadows and camera angles) but the main reason to watch is Karloff. He never received the attention he deserved because he made horror films, which are still looked down upon. He was a wonderful actor and in this movie gives one of his best performances ("The Black Room" is probably THE best he ever gave). Just check out his expression after he "kills" the men he goes after. Excellent job. A perfect "B" movie. Don't miss it! I don't believe this is on video (I saw it on TCM), so if you get a chance, SEE IT! You won't be disappointed!
  • I have to agree with those who consider Karloff an underrated actor. Given the nature of this film and its fantastic premise, he brings a real subtlety to the role. After each of his antagonists meet their untimely demise, there is just a hint of remorse and sadness. Who else in the horror genre would have underplayed it like that? Karloff becomes the walking conscience of his tormentors and apart from the films failings regarding plot, effects etc., I think it works quite nicely on the level of allegory.
  • THE WALKING DEAD (Warner Brothers, 1936), directed by Michael Curtiz, is an interesting little item from the "horror" genre of the 1930s. Naturally starring Boris Karloff, but surprisingly produced and released by Warner Brothers instead of by Universal, where films of this sort were filmed and Karloff under studio contract. Being a Warners film, this also has the trademarks of its very own popular genre, the "gangster" story, yet, in this case, the use of modern-day setting with the blend gangsters with tales of the supernatural and science fiction.

    The story opens with Judge Roger Shaw (Joseph King), in spite of threats from the mob, convicting a racketeer named Steven Martin (Kenneth Harlan) to a ten year prison sentence. Nolan (Ricardo Cortez), Martin's lawyer, sets out to do away with the judge by arranging one of his fellow racketeers, "Trigger" Smith (Joseph Sawyer), to employ John Ellman (Boris Karloff), an out-of-work musician out on parole for two weeks following his ten year prison sentence, to "spy" on Shaw, the judge who also had sent him up, on the grounds that Shaw's wife suspects her husband of being unfaithful, and all Ellman has to do is watch his house and take notes. One night while spying on Shaw by his property, the judge is murdered elsewhere by the gangsters who take the body and leave it in the back seat of Ellman's car. At the same time, this is witnessed by a young couple, Jimmy and Nancy (Warren Hull and Marguerite Churchill), who remain silent after they are personally threatened. After Ellman notices the couple driving away, he discovers the body in his car. The next scene shifts to the courtroom where Ellman pleads his innocence and that there are witnesses who can verify his story, but with the "help" of his attorney Nolan, he gets him convicted of first degree murder and to face execution. On the night he is to go to the electric chair, Jimmy and Nancy come forth to Doctor Beaumont (Edmund Gwenn), their employer and scientist, who immediately telephones Nolan to contact the governor to stop the execution. Nolan purposely awaits until it is too late, and by then, the death sentence is carried out. Beaumont orders the autopsy to be stopped so that he may revive the body. After Ellman is brought back from the dead, he appears in a "zombie" state of mind, remembering nothing, but knowing precisely whom his enemies are, and through a supernatural force, goes after each one of those gangsters to learn why they had him framed, only to witness their destinies through accidental occurrences.

    Featured in the supporting cast are Warner Brothers stock company of Barton MacLane as Loder; Henry O'Neill as District Attorney Werner; Addison Richards as the Prison Warden; Eddie Acuff as Mitchell; with Paul Harvey as Blackstone and Robert Strange as Merritt.

    Boris Karloff is no stranger in playing a corpse resurrected from the dead. His role as The Monster in FRANKENSTEIN (Universal, 1931) or THE MUMMY (Universal, 1932), immediately come to mind, yet, in this production, he somehow resembles the monster, but in this case, doesn't go out on a murderous rampage in spite that he actually does have just cause to avenge his evil doers. Karloff's John Ellman is actually a gentle soul who, after being executed for a crime for which he is innocent, retains his gentleness even through his second life, yet, succeeds in bringing fright through his eyes to those who had done him wrong. He even finds peace and tranquility while roaming about the cemetery. Being a musician and pianist himself, he has a favorite musical piece, a somewhat quiet but moody composition he asks to be played as he walks his last mile to the execution chamber. As for the music, Ellman adds, "I like to think Heaven like that." After his "resurrection" by Doctor Beaumont, the story occasionally shifts to mystic overtones as Beaumont tries to learn from Ellman his experience in death. At one point, Ellman responds, "Leave the dead to their Maker. The Lord our God is a jealous God."

    In many ways, THE WALKING DEAD is highly original in its premise and during its short 66 minutes, starts off a bit slowly with some intrusive "comedy relief" provided by Eddie Acuff, whose sure thing in making wagers which turns out to be a bad gamble, but soon builds itself to a fast and memorable conclusion. During its second half, the movie plays like a "film noir" mystery with its dark atmospheric background along with some very creepy stalking from the titled character. THE WALKING DEAD may not be Academy Award winning material, but will guarantee to win a new and appreciative audience whenever shown on Turner Classic Movies. (**)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film is interesting because Karloff does end up a figure of doom to many people, but unlike other films his victims are not sympathetic at all, and he is not murderous. He has been framed for a killing by a group of criminals led by Ricardo Cortez and Barton MacLane, and is sent to the electric chair. But Edmund Gwenn has designed a method of restoring life, and does so to Karloff. The problem is that Cortez and the others are not too happy about his resurrection, especially as he seems to be omniscient towards them about their guilt. But he is also increasingly able to bring about their demises, all in rather horrific fashion.

    The trick that is being missed in most of the reviews of the film that are listed here is that Karloff is not really an avenging type here. His personality comes out in the first twenty minutes of the film, where he is panicking because of the tightening noose of fake circumstantial evidence brought against him, and then by his gradually accepting his doom as impossible to avoid. When he returns from the dead, he is silent (one could add "as the tomb" and be correct). He does not have much to say, and attempts by Gwenn and the others to ask him what life is like on the other side are met with quick dismissive comments. But it is soon apparent that Karloff is not really happy being back alive. He was, despite the unfair way it was brought about, at peace when he died. He and God knew he was innocent.

    The various "revenge deaths" are actually not revenge at all. Boris leaves his rooms with Gwenn and walks about town. He traces down Joe Sawyer and other villains, and they see him walk in "zombie-like" but also as a figure of doom. And each one accidentally dies by their own hand. And each time Karloff comes out of his trance after they die - and is as amazed at their demise as they probably were.

    The question the viewer should ask is why did the scriptwriter not have Boris kill these villains as they deserve. The answer is simple. When his character John Ellman died, Ellman had been framed for the crime. Although executed as a murderer, in reality Ellman was totally innocent. Depending on one's religious views, Ellman apparently died in a state of grace with God. He is forcibly brought back from the dead by man-made method, and yet is already marked as one who was blameless at death. He can't be changed now into an avenging creature. He can be used to cause panic among his enemies so they can cause their own demise. But as he is just an innocent instrument to rekindle justified fear in the hearts of evil men who destroyed him and the murder victim, he can maintain his state of innocence. Which he does. Even as he returns to the dead at the end, he still does not have any chance to describe heaven. And earlier he did mention that God is a jealous God.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This neat little Warner Brothers thriller with touches of science fiction and horror is the story of a group of legal eagles who find out that a man that they've sent to the electric chair (Boris Karloff) is innocent and delay their call to the governor to save his life. Scientist Edmund Gwenn, already convinced of his innocence, manages to bring him back through utilizing an experiment he was on the verge of perfecting, and the resurrected Karloff is a man who may or may not be obsessed with revenge. He confronts several of the men, including the one who framed him in the first place, and they die, but not as a result of his hands.

    The insinuation here is that the men, so paranoid of his vengeance, drove themselves to their deaths. Warner Brothers, so adept in prison and gangster films, throws in a bit of Universal style horror to make a better than average "B" film with some good character performances (Barton MacLane is memorably malevolent as one of the criminals) and usual romantic hero Ricardo Cortez as a bad guy. Karloff gives a sympathetic portrayal a the victim of the law's evil ambitions. Gwenn's obsession with the idea of knowing what happened in the hour that Karloff was dead adds an interesting twist that should have the viewer thinking on a lot of different levels.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Reading most of the other viewer comments on this board, I was surprised that virtually no one had anything to say about the whitish 'L' shaped band in Boris Karloff's hair. It was reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart's skunk like streak in "The Return of Dr. X" where he portrayed a vampire of all things! In "The Walking Dead", Karloff is an ex-con brought back from the dead after being framed for a murder he didn't commit. Once revived, he exacts his revenge on the gang that set him up, using a psychic link from the beyond to track them down and lead them to their doom. For the premise of the story to work however, one has to get beyond the point where the murdered Judge Shaw was connected to the car John Ellman (Karloff) was driving. With no one around, why wouldn't Ellman simply have found a place to dump the body?

    The other thing that bothered me was why the conflicted young couple working for Dr. Beaumont waited until the evening of Ellman's scheduled execution to come clean with their story. I mean Jimmy (Warren Hull) was jumping right out of his skin at the trial to tell what he knew, and it didn't strike me convincingly that Nancy (Marguerite Churchill) would let an innocent man die. I know, then there wouldn't have been a story, but gee, that makes them the film's really, REALLY bad guys, doesn't it?

    I must say, I was unusually impressed by the size and scope of Dr. Beaumont's (Edmund Gwenn) laboratory. It looked like Warner Brothers might have been trying to outdo their Universal counterparts in the technical gadgetry department with all those beakers and scientific looking gizmos. They even did one better on the Frankenstein operating table with one that see-sawed during the back to life process - pretty clever. The other Frankenstein connection saw Karloff's character walking through the cemetery after his last two victims using that distinctive halting gait.

    Fans of Boris Karloff might not consider this one of his better performances, but it still carries some punch whenever the camera closes in on his gaunt expressionless face. After all, he was dead you know. Which is kind of interesting, as this is one of those rare films where the zombie brought back to life is actually killed again before it's all over. Better not to try and explain it, just tune in for a frightfully good show.
  • One of the best horror films of the 30s. The only criticism lies in some of the acting by the secondary characters. Otherwise, superb direction, magnificent Hal Mohr photography, good script and story, and excellent music score by Bernhard Kaun (which was NOT listed in the credits by the way). Even if you are not a horror fan, it rates high as a rainy day diversion.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Very creative. I can understand why some might not like this film because it is not what's expected. "The Walking Dead" conjures up re-animated beings wreaking havoc and destruction until the hero's figure out how to put them back in their graves, blow them to smithereens, or send them back into, from whence they came.

    All Boris wants is to find out is why. But... Well, you'll have to watch the movie.

    It's not a monster movie and it isn't a "bring them back from the dead is evil" movie either. There's no moralizing about violating the laws of God or Man. But, it is a film about justice.

    The acting and directing are far better than the typical monster / horror flick of the 1930's. It's amazing what we are left to figure out on our own without being beaten over the head as in most films of the genre.

    Boris Karloff, who is brought back from the dead - is a sympathetic character with a unique twist.

    THE FOLLOWING MIGHT BE A SPOILER (I don't really think so. But, I don't know how much must be disclosed for it to be one): Boris senses who framed him and goes about finding them. He asks them "Why?" Apparently, their guilty consciences cause them - when confronted by the person whose death they caused - to be so terrified that they literally die in accidents while Boris sadly looks on because he didn't find out why they framed him. (This is only my interpretation so I'd be interested in knowing whether others saw it this way as well.) I don't remember another film where the motivation is honorable and not revenge or some other negative or "evil" motivation.

  • Warning: Spoilers
    I suppose you could argue that many classic horror movies are pretty religious - Frankenstein is about a scientist who tampers with God's forbidden knowledge and pays the penalty - Dracula is awash in religious symbolism; The Exorcist is seen by many as a serious comment on Possession by Demons - Yet The Walking Dead also has this religious element...and then some! Boris Karloff plays John Elman, a former convict just out of prison for accidentally killing a man. Elman, a musician, is promptly stitched up by gangsters for the murder of the judge who sent him down, removing the judge's threat to their criminal activities. He walks the last mile to the electric chair proclaiming his innocence. However medical researcher Dr. Beaumont (Edmund Gwen) restores Karloff to life with the aid of the Lindburgh Heart, a real device from the 30s that Charles Linburgh co-designed in the hope it would lead to mechanical heart replacements.

    Elman has suffered a blood clot which has affected his memory, yet strangely he seems to know everything the guilty men did, and sets out to confront those responsible.

    And here is the crux - Karloff does not hunt these men down like some mad zombie, he merely appears to each and questions them as to their actions, and through their own fear they each die. The whole theme of the movie is the vengeance of a higher power using Elman as his agent.

    The movie is a watchable and atmospheric little thriller, with Karloff giving a strangely moving performance. Director Michael Curtiz, here making his third horror movie after Dr. X and Mystery Of The Wax Museum, delivers another good addition to these films. If you expect Karloff in monster mode you'll probably be disappointed, but The Walking Dead is interestingly different to the usual horror fare, and well worth a look.
  • Michael Curtiz directed this odd combination of gangster and horror films for Warner Bros. Karloff is a minor gangster released from prison who is framed and executed for murder. He's brought back to life when his name is cleared and confronts each of the men who framed him with his knowledge from beyond the grave. The execution scene is absolutely excruciating, as the only witnesses to the crime try to get the corrupt governor to call in a pardon while the music-loving Karloff walks to the electric chair, accompanied by a cello.
  • Excellent little horror film directed by the amazingly talented Michael Curtiz, the same man who would later give up Casablanca amongst many other classic films.

    The story is a genre mashup of gangster and horror and at only about 1 hour 5 minutes, there isn't much time to lag. With such a skilled eye behind the camera, we are treated to a film that does not bore.

    Boris Karloff is the star and he does such a great job of bringing fright to the picture. For someone interested in the acting of Karloff or the films of Curtiz, this is a must see!

    7.0 / 10

    --A Kat Pirate Screener
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A Film starring the great Boris Karloff, directed by "Casablanca" director Michael Curtiz - Is there anything else a Classic Horror lover could desire? "The Walking Dead" of 1936 is one of a handful of Warner Horror films from the 30s, and indeed a very original one. The film, which is a mixture of gangster film (in the first half) is only 70 minutes long. Even though the entire cast deliver solid performances, this is mainly a Karloff one-man-show, simply due to this brilliant Horror icon's unique charisma and incomparable talent for eeriness. As far as I am concerned, Karloff is not only one of the all-time Horror greats, but generally one of the greatest actors in motion picture history, and "The Walking Dead" is yet another proof of this brilliant man's greatness. Apart from the great Karloff, the film is highly atmospheric and well-shot in dark eerie tones.

    After a gangster gets sentenced to a 10-year prison sentence, a group of fellow mobsters lead by the lawyer Nolan (Ricardo Cortez) decide to have the Judge killed. In order to prevent being charged for their crime, they frame the naive musician John Ellman (Boris Karloff) for the murder. Ellman, who had been sent to prison by the judge once, is subsequently brought to trial, sentenced to death, and executed on the electric chair. When his innocence is proved minutes after his death, Ellman is resurrected by the ingenious scientist Dr. Beaumont, who has resurrected dead animals before...

    The scientific resurrection of the dead is generally one of my favorite topics in Horror films. Great films about this topic have been made throughout cinematic history, be it James Whale's brilliant Universal Classics "Frankenstein" and "Bride Of Frankenstein" in the 1930s (in which Karloff plays his most famous role), the Hammer Studio's ingenious Frankenstein films with Peter Cushing, or Stuart Gordon's "Re-Animator" of 1985. These are just a few brilliant films about the (attempt of) scientific resurrection of dead people, and even though quite different, "The Walking Dead" is yet another very good film following a plot of the kind. As mentioned above, Karloff is, as always, excellent in his role. Karloff's role ingeniously switches between naive victim, human vegetable and vengeful ghost, and this great, and versatile actor was predestined to play roles of the kind. The rest of the performances are entirely solid, especially Ricardo Cortez is very good. The film is very well photographed, the dark, gloomy tones help build up a particularly eerie atmosphere. The film is neither one of Karloff's nor director Curtiz' most well known films, but it sure is worth tracking down. A must-see for fans of classic Horror!
  • It's a dead man walking in this film with Boris Karloff brought back to life by a doctor (Edmund Gwenn - Miracle on 34th Street).

    There was no surprises as I would have expected, as the reanimation was posted all over the newspapers the next day.

    It's not just a horror film, but a gangster film, as Ellman (Karloff) was executed for a crime he didn't commit.

    It was really funny when he went after those involved in the conspiracy to frame him. A little supernatural work on a lot of guilty consciences.

    It was a fascinating film, and Gwenn was superb. Karloff was also very good.
  • Gangster's led by Nolan (Ricardo Cortez) want to have a local law abiding judge killed, in doing so, they frame an ex-con, John Ellman (Boris Karloff) for the murder. Nolan acts as Ellman's lawyer and makes certain he is convicted and executed in the electric chair. Dr. Beaumont(Edmund Gwenn), a scientist is able to restore life to dead animals and seeks permission to try reviving Ellman's dead body. Dr. Beaumont is successful in restoring Ellman back to life. Boris Karloff goes on a killing rampage, running through graveyards making this picture very melodramatic with its black and white setting. Edmund Gwenn (Santa Claus in "Miracle on 42nd Street) gives a very dramatic performance doing his very best to help Karloff. There is a great supporting cast with Marguerite Churchill, Warren Hull, Barton MacLane and Joseph Sawyer. This is truly a great Classic film.
  • This movie is enjoyable escapism. Karloff is framed and dies in the electric chair even as the Governor is trying to reach the warden to stop the execution because two witnesses have finally come forward who can prove Karloff's innocence. Edmund Gwenn plays a doctor who is able to immediately bring Karloff back to life (I told you it was escapism). Throughout the remainder of the film Karloff quietly confronts the men who framed him, including his crooked attorney. The manner in which the "bad-guys" get what's coming to them makes for an interesting story. Karloff plays his character as basically a gentle, soft spoken individual who seems more interested in finding out why he was framed than in extracting revenge. My only real criticism is that the classical music selection used throughout the film is overdone and tends to get on the nerves after awhile. It's a very dreary piece to start with and not the type of music to heighten the films' enjoyment. The point was made at least twice that it was the Karloff character's favorite musical piece. I promise that, after hearing it throughout the run of this film, it will not be yours'.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Warner Bros. during the 1930's and 40's cornered the market on gangster and film-noir films. One of the leaders in these genres was Michael Curtiz, who would later go on to direct "The Adventures of Robin Hood", "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and of course, "Casablanca".

    In a bit of a departure, Warner Bros. made "The Walking Dead" in 1936, and had Curtiz at the helm. It's a departure in that the case could be made that this is a horror film.

    It stars horror king Boris Karloff, as John Ellman, who is framed for the murder of a judge. Ellman is brought back to life by Dr. Beaumont(Edmund Gwenn), who is a doctor that wants to help Karloff, and explore the possibility of heart transplants.

    Karloff spends the rest of the picture tracking down and destroying those who framed him.

    The rest of the supporting cast Ricardo Cortez, Marguerite Churchill, Warren Hull, and Barton MacLane are very good.

    Curtiz and cinematographer Hal Mohr do a great job of giving the film a haunting, eerie feeling, perfect for Halloween. The film reminds you of the great Universal horror movies.
  • "The Walking Dead" is one of those films that may not be shown too often but when it is, you get your money's worth.

    Released in 1936, Boris Karloff plays a man who is wrongly convicted of the murder of a local judge.

    A scientist brings Karloff back to life after conducting various experiments. The gangsters responsible are brought to book by Karloff in his own way.

    Michael Curtiz directs this one with a more "no- nonsense" but professional manner. Running at about 65 minutes, "The Walking Dead" has plenty of enjoyment.
  • Michael Curtiz directed this beautifully filmed story of poor luckless John Elman(played superbly by Boris Karloff) who was framed by racketeers for the murder of a judge. Elman is then tried and found guilty of murder. Though evidence proving his innocence is found, it arrives too late to save his life. Still, a Dr. Beaumont(played by Edmund Gwenn) has developed a way to bring back the recently dead, and resurrects Elman, who resumes his pianist skills to conduct eerie concerts, though also is compelled to confront those responsible for framing him... Again, Boris Karloff is excellent, playing the role for the sympathy and pathos it deserves. Atmospheric and thoughtful; only the highly familiar plot mars this fine film, with a haunting end.
  • The Walking Dead immediately appealed to me as I am very fond of Boris Karloff. While not one of his best films, it is rather too short and there are a couple of instances where the music overbears things a bit, it is still a very good film. Karloff himself is very commanding and poignant in his role, and Edmund Gwenn matches him beautifully. Michael Curtiz directs with a very slick and assured style, never allowing for the story to drag but not letting it rush ahead either. The expressionistic style of the cinematography adds much to the atmosphere especially in the horror elements of the story, while the score on the most part is used really well. There is also an intelligent script, and the story moves at an involving pace with the gangster elements intense and suspenseful and the horror elements scary and macabre. The idea itself may be hard to swallow initially, but it is actually dealt with plausibly and thoughtfully with not a shred of predictability.

    All in all, a very good film especially for Karloff. 8/10 Bethany Cox
  • I dare you to type the title of this film in Google, YouTube or even here on IMDb. As a fan of classic horror, I find it very frustrating that you must scroll down endlessly to find it, because the first eight pages or so are dedicated to articles, images and pages for the popular zombie TV-series with the same name!

    So, now that's off my chest, I can underline what a clever and atmospheric yet unjustly underrated horror/thriller "The Walking Dead" is! Although not groundbreaking or original anymore by 1936, the plot of Karloff resurrected from the dead to wreak havoc against the ones who wronged him remains haunting and tense! The film is an early mixture of genres, namely gangster film and horror, but thanks to the phenomenal craftsmanship of director Michael Curtiz and lead star Boris Karloff, "The Walking Dead" doesn't feel like a cheap attempt to cash in on both streams at the same time. Curtiz' professionalism is nearly indescribable, in fact. The man directed nearly 180 films, and yet they are all unique. This one greatly benefices from influences of gothic and expressionist film styles, and of course the almost naturally macabre charisma of the protagonist. John Ellman is a pianist and former convict who desperately tries to bring his life back on the rails when he turns to his lawyer Nolan for help. The corrupt and ruthless Nolan instead frames Ellman for the murder of an eminent judge and defends him poorly enough to get him sentenced to death in the electric chair. Ellman's innocence is proved moments after his execution, which motives Dr. Beaumont to use Ellman's body in a revolutionary scientific experiment to bring him back to life. Ellman is motionless and amnesic at first, but his memory returns through practicing his music; - and so does his hunger for justice and retaliation! "The Walking Dead" suffers somewhat from a mandatory slow (but nevertheless atmospheric and well-acted) first half, but the second half is brilliantly tense and packed with memorable highlights. The piano recital sequence, for instance, where the expressions on the murderers' faces grow increasingly petrified while Ellman's own face shows a madly accusing grimace, is insanely suspenseful. The corrupted men meet their fates in gruesome ways, like underneath trains or in nasty car accidents, making "The Walking Dead" a fierce film and Ellman an exceptional avenging angel who hardly even makes his hands dirty. Excellent film, never mind that it's more than 80 years old, because it remains a must-see!
  • In order to dispose of an honest judge a small group of racketeers hire a local gunman to kill him and then set up a recently released convict named "John Ellman" (Boris Karloff) to take the fall. Sure enough, John Ellman is convicted and then sent to the electric chair due in large part because of two witnesses named "Jimmy" (Warren Hull) and his girlfriend "Nancy" (Marguerite Churchill) who wait too long to come forward. Fortunately, a physician named "Dr. Beaumont" (Edmund Gwenn) comes up with a novel idea to bring John Ellman back to life even though he has been dead for several hours. Although his plan succeeds there is something much different about John which nobody can quite seem to figure out. Now rather than reveal any more of the plot and risk spoiling this movie for those who haven't seen it I will just say that for a short, relatively low-budget motion picture produced in 1936 this film turned out to be quite good all things considered. I especially liked the performances of Boris Karloff and to a lesser degree that of Marguerite Churchill along with the nifty (albeit now antique) cars used in this movie. Be that as it may, I enjoyed this film and rate it as above average.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    After seeing Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein monster in those Universal horror classics, it must have been obvious to Jack Warner and director Michael Curtiz that he was the only player capable of bringing this film off. Karloff is once again a resurrected man and said resurrection has foiled a carefully made frame that Karloff has been put in.

    Boris is cast as a concert pianist who has just served ten years for manslaughter. The judge who sent him up has become the target of the city's racketeers which include Barton MacLane and Karloff's own lawyer Ricardo Cortez.

    Here's where Karloff is under-appreciated as an actor. When you examine the frame up that is used it's really kind of stupid. But Karloff creates such an impression of this down and out pitiable figure that the real trigger man Joe Sawyer can take advantage of him and get him arrested and tried for the crime Sawyer commits.

    Here also is where Ricardo Cortez plays one of his patented screen heels as well. He defends Karloff once again and throws the case and then prevents two witnesses, Warren Hull and Marguerite Churchill, from coming forward to save Karloff from the electric chair. Their reasons for originally not coming forward are specious as well, but Karloff's brilliant performance smooths that all over.

    They work for scientist Edmund Gwenn who uses electricity and a lab that looks a whole lot like Dr. Frankenstein's to shock Karloff's cadaver back to life. He feigns amnesia and starts looking for those who did him wrong. What Karloff doesn't feign is that he has no memory of those hours that he was not among the living.

    As you can see a whole lot of the Warner Brothers stock company got work in this film giving Boris Karloff an unusually strong supporting cast for a change. Still Karloff carries this film and this terribly wronged man that Karloff brings to the screen will haunt you and overcomes a lot of script and editing weaknesses The Walking Dead has.
An error has occured. Please try again.